Bill James has just posted a tremendous piece of new research and thinking on his website (subscription only, unfortunately). It’s called “The Longing,” and this is the opening paragraph:
Major league baseball has been substantially re-created and re-invented, over the last hundred years, by the desire of major league managers to create more stable workloads for their pitchers. This desire has overridden and thus essentially eliminated platooning, has sharply limited pinch hitting, has done away with third catchers, has virtually eliminated complete games, has re-defined normalcy in roster construction, pushing us gradually from 7 pitchers per team to 13, has added dozens of new statistical measurements to the game, and has caused games to get substantially longer and slower, as managers change pitchers every more frequently.
Quite an opening statement. Bill then quantifies how much more regular pitcher use has gotten since 1900 and then talks about the “whys” and “wherefores.” As usual with Bill’s writing, it’s his thinking and writing, even more than his actual research, that is so insightful and entertaining.
A special shoutout goes to our own Chris Jaffe, whose book about managers is cited a couple of times and quoted directly.